20 years of independence at Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum comes as director plans exit

Lyall Bush at the forum's 20th anniversary gala (Image: Elisa Huerta-Enochian with permission to CHS)

Lyall Bush at the NWFF’s 20th anniversary gala. He’s stepping down as director of the nonprofit in September.  (Image: Elisa Huerta-Enochian with permission to CHS)

For 20 years, the Northwest Film Forum has gathered people on Capitol Hill around a common love of making, watching, and learning about independent film and executive director Lyall Bush has been there from the beginning. After watching the NWFF grow from a small film equipment collective into an invaluable arts asset for the city and seven years of steering the ship, Bush is now planning an exit for a new director to make their mark.

Bush announced on Thursday he would be stepping down from his post this September.

“You take stock, at that point, and ask what you want to be doing, and in a sense our 20th anniversary is a good chance for the organization to hit the refresh button (so to speak) as well,” Bush told CHS in an email. “It’s a chance for the whole operation to write a new strategic plan, craft new vision, and keep independent filmmaking going for another couple of decades.”

Bush’s announcement came on the same day that writer, director, and NWFF board member Megan Griffiths was announced as the recipient of the 10th annual Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film. Griffiths’ latest film, Lucky Them, featured scenes filmed in the heart of Capitol Hill in 2013.

Even as the city’s biggest force in film seems rejuvenated and as vital as ever on Capitol Hill with its 41st annual festival kicking off here and around Seattle this week, there are no guarantees of sustainability for smaller champions of film arts.

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Capitol Hill food+drink | Niche ‘100% dedicated’ gluten free cafe and bakery coming to 12th Ave

What happens when a pastry chef goes paleo? Food and drink entrepreneur Toby Matasar is opening Niche, a “gluten free cafe and bakery” on 12th Ave in a small space sandwiched between a Taco del Mar and a Starbucks across from Seattle University.

The pastry chef and owner of West Seattle’s Eats Market Cafe says she changed her own diet two years ago — “I literally felt like I was given a new body within a week of eating this way and I’ve never looked back, only forward” — and now has created Niche, a cafe and market “100% dedicated” to providing gluten free food and drink. Matasar says she hopes to have created “a haven not just for those looking to eat less gluten but for those who want to eat fantastic foods that happen to be gluten free.” The goal is to be open by the end of June.

Still known for her four years working as a pastry chef with Tom Douglas, Matasar tells CHS she lived on Capitol Hill “many moons ago” after college. Following an East Coast stint, she returned to Seattle but settled in West Seattle. “There’s always been a place in my heart for Capitol Hill since that’s where I first fell in love with living in Seattle which is what brought me back here.” Continue reading

Civic Duty | Madison BRT open house, 12th Ave E design review

  • Screen-Shot-2015-02-03-at-11.23.24-AM-600x438Madison BRT Open House: With the mayor announcing a revision to the planned levy that will help pay for it Since announcing an initial draft proposal in mid-March, the Mayor’s Office and SDOT have engaged people across Seattle, seeking feedback on transportation priorities. The revised proposal reflects what the City has learned through this engagement effort. — the Madison BRT project will be on the board Wednesday night at an open house to gather feedback on the $87 million project:
    SDOT would like your input on:
    -BRT design options, routing, terminals, and station locations
    -Priorities for transit service and capital investments
    -Design concepts for a Central Area protected bike lane

    Madison BRT Open House – 5/6/15 5-7 PM at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences Middle School 1432 15th Ave

    CHS wrote here about the biggest design questions for the “bus rapid transit” project planned to create a corridor of speedy bus service from the waterfront all the way up to the Central District through the heart of First Hill and along the southern edges of Capitol Hill.

  • Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 11.06.27 AM12th Ave E Design Review: The review board has a light session Wednesday night with only one project on the docket. A four-story building with 51 apartment units and no parking is planned for 12th Ave just south of John. The old house standing at the site — like many others along 12th — will be demolished for the project.

    Design Review: 121 12th Ave E
    Design Proposal (PDF)Review Meeting
    May 6, 2015 6:30 pm
    Seattle University
    902 Broadway
    Administration Building Room 221
    Review Phase

Capitol Hill food+drink | Nate’s Wings and Waffles coming to 12th and Jefferson


(Images: Nate’s via Facebook)

Yes, the former Kingfish Cafe will soon reopen as a Pike/Pine-powered Italian joint, the Catfish Corner is no more, and Philly Fevre has moved aside, but there’s hope for Seattle’s inner city soul food, yet. Ms. Helen is coming back to 23rd and Union.

And Nate’s Wings and Waffles is coming to 12th and Jefferson.

“The new shop — it’s a lot bigger,” owner Darren McGill tells CHS of the former Ethiopian restaurant at 1224 E Jefferson being ripped apart in anticipation of a fall opening of the new chicken and waffle joint. “We’ll have an extended menu and a full bar.” Continue reading

Mystic makes 12th Ave plans in Seattle’s growing kombucha culture and community

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

da Silva at the Broadway Farmers Market (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Carlos da Silva started brewing kombucha as a hobby about three and a half years ago. He and his friend, Caitlin Matteson, were both yoga teachers who liked the beverage made from fermented tea, so they bought a home kit from Communitea.

The pair, and their friends, enjoyed the brew they came up with, but there was one big problem.

“We didn’t make enough kombucha for a habit,” da Silva said. “We wanted to make more.”

From that scoby — the squishy tea starter disc — sprang forth Mystic Kombucha, a company which sells its creations around Capitol Hill including the weekly Sunday Broadway Farmers Market, and which, as early as this summer, should have its own kombucha bar on 12th Ave. Continue reading

OK… one* more nostalgic CHS post… Art Invasion marks doomed 12/John house, Hill’s still-kicking arts scene

IMG_6385(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Thursday night — and for that night only — artists from around Capitol Hill and Seattle “invaded” a doomed house on the corner of John and 12th with art to showcase the vitality of the neighborhood’s longstanding independent arts scene and highlight the departure of yet another niche of the Hill’s creativity due to displacement.

The renegade art show, dubbed the Capitol Hill Art Invasion was organized by a longtime tenant of the 1920’s-era three-story labyrinth of a home; local artist Damien Puggelli in collaboration with members of a recently created local arts community building collective; Space 4 Art, many of whom are also Capitol Hill residents.

Puggelli, who has been living in a shed turned garage adjacent to the house since 2003, learned back in november of last year that the property is being sold by its joint owners to a developer who plans to demolish the pre-existing home to build high density apartments. Two adjacent and dilapidated properties on 12th Ave are also being leveled by the same company for similar purposes, according to Puggelli.

“I’m slightly heartbroken about this space,” said Puggelli. “What can you do?”

Puggelli says he has yet to receive an eviction notice, but was pre-empting his eventual and the relocation of other similarly displaced artists around the Hill with last night’s show.

Though Puggelli has been the only long-term resident, the house has provided studios and workspaces for numerous artists over the years such as K.D. Schill, a Seattle costume designer.

The idea for the invasion was hatched several months prior by Puggelli and collaborators, who wished to convey not only a “farewell” to the neighborhood but also the vibrancy and necessity of Capitol Hill’s independent arts scene, which they feel is being bulldozed — both literally and figuratively — by gentrifying forces. Continue reading

Our last nostalgic CHS post ever* — Century-old plumbing business another piece of old Capitol Hill making way for development 

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Not many businesses on Capitol Hill can trace their history as far back as 1909. Bruce Good, owner of 12th Ave’s Jay Frees Plumbing and Heating, is the latest owner in a century-old line of repairmen at the helm of this Capitol Hill institution. Now, one chapter in the business appears to be nearing an end. Also ending, nostalgic business closing stories on CHS (for plumbers, anyway).

A duo of industrious microhousing developers are in the early stages of planning  a mixed-use development on the narrow property, located between E. Olive St and E. Howell Kelten Johnson and Tyler Carr  haven’t yet purchased the property, but their company is in the early stages of developing a 20-unit building with a small commercial space.

Johnson told CHS it was too early to discuss any details or when demolition of the plumbing building might happen, though he did say the project would not be microhousing. Early plans call for about 20 studio apartments and a few parking spaces in the back of the building.

For decades, the plumbing business has occupied a transformed single-family house, which today is sits sandwiched between two apartment complexes.

According to the company’s history, Jay Frees plumbing started in 1909 when Capitol Hill Plumbing opened on 10th Ave. In 1947, local plumber Frees bought the business and eventually moved it to 12th Ave. He ran the business for 50 years before handing it over to Good, who had been working as a plumber and repairman in the neighborhood since the 1970s. Good has kept the Frees name and signage ever since.

CHS tried to reach Good several times to talk about the future of his business. Despite the upheaval surrounding the business, it seems this old school Capitol Hill plumber is still finding plenty of work in the neighborhood.

Judges, officials vow to reduce county’s youth detentions


The current youth detention center from above.

King County judges will lock up fewer youths for minor offenses and elected officials are promising to bolster diversion programs as part of a plan announced Tuesday to address inherent racism in the county’s juvenile justice system.

King County Executive Dow Constantine joined King County Judge Susan Craighead to announce the plan as the county faces ongoing efforts by activists and community groups to stop the replacement of the aging youth detention center at 12th and Alder.

“Racial disparity has no place in our justice system here in King County, especially not in systems responsible for the well-being of our youth,” Constantine said.

Under the new initiative, judges would avoid ordering detention for low-level “status” offenses, like skipping school. County judges have also pledged to cut in half the number of youths detained for violating terms of their probation and to reduce detention times. Last year, there were 467 admissions to youth detention for probation violations — 42% of those were for black youths.

In order to divert those youths away from detention, County Council members plan to invest $4.3 million in job programs and expanded options for diversion.

Constantine also announced the county would cut 32 beds from the planned Children and Family Justice Center. The current 12th and Alder facility has 212 beds. The new voter-approved center was supposed to have 144 beds, which has now been reduced to 112. Officials said the true maximum capacity will be closer to 80. Continue reading

15 years, 10 leaders: New East Precinct commander a familiar face — UPDATE: 11

Capt. McDonagh (Image: SPD)

Capt. McDonagh (Image: SPD)

Capt. Paul McDonagh is back in command of the East Precinct. A major shuffle of Seattle Police Department brass is set to be announced with the former commander resuming the post he held for two and a half years into 2009 — the longest tenure of any of the ten different commanders the precinct has seen since 1999.

The Seattle Times was first to report the shuffle which follows Chief Kathleen O’Toole’s overhaul of her command staff earlier this month.

McDonagh replaces Capt. Pierre Davis who took over in early 2014 after his predecessor Capt. Mike Edwards was move out practically mid-CHS interview. If McDonagh takes a page from Edwards and Davis, he’ll likely promise to look into more foot patrols and increase community presence for his officers.

McDonagh’s two and a half years leading the officers patrolling Capitol Hill, the Central District, Madison Valley and Madison Park, Montlake, and parts of First Hill and Eastlake were the most stable period in the precinct’s previous decade. In 2009 as Capt. Jim Dermody took over, CHS reported on the revolving door in the precinct since then-Capt. John Diaz left the command post in 1999:

I interviewed each of the East Precinct commanders around the time each took the reins. They had appropriately positive things to say about their new job, which, if memory serves, in each case represented a promotion and their first posting as a newly-minted captain. But after several such conversations I asked how long a new commander expected to stay on the Hill. Here’s Mike Meehan’s reply from 2004:

“I say this laughingly, but I told my boss that my intention is to stay here until the day I retire. I’ll stay here as long as they allow me to stay. I am very happy to be at the East Precinct.”

Meehan stayed until mid-2005.

A more than 30-year SPD veteran, McDonagh most recently served as O’Toole’s inherited assistant chief of special operations. His most immediate issue in East will be a response to a call from local businesses asking for increased patrols to quell street crime in Pike/Pine and to address ongoing gun violence in the Central District. Yes, he’ll also have Joe Buckets to handle.

Capt. Davis leaves the precinct after just more than a year of leadership. The end of his tenure is clouded by a still-open Office of Professional Accountability investigation into Officer Cynthia Whitlach’s July 2014 arrest at 12th and Pike of William Wingate, a black, 70-year-old veteran walking with a golf club. SPD says the officer was disciplined in the incident with counseling, a course of action that must be formally approved by the chain of command including Capt. Davis who is also black. “The officer who made the arrest received counseling from her supervisor, a course of action that the department believes to be an appropriate resolution,” a SPD statement on the investigation stated. “I have directed East Precinct commander Captain Pierre Davis to prepare a comprehensive report,” a statement from O’Toole read, “to include his assessment of the officer’s performance and any supervisory measures that were taken to address her actions in these incidents.” We do not know if the report has been completed. Capt. Davis is set to return to the Southwest Precinct.

The flurry of changes are likely to make this Thursday’s meeting of the East Precinct Advisory Council a more interesting affair than average whether as a goodbye for Capt. Davis or a welcome back for Capt. McDonagh. Hopefully the transition goes as smoothly for McDonagh as his memorable summer 2009 arrest of a Harvard Market bank robbery suspect in which the man made an easy to spot target covered in dye and trailing smoke behind him as he fled the crime scene.

UPDATE: We forgot one — Capt. Ron Wilson lead the precinct in 2013 before quietly retiring.

Capt. Wilson at a meeting to address crime around Cal Anderson in 2013 (Image: CHS)

Capt. Wilson at a meeting to address crime around Cal Anderson in 2013 (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill food+drink | Gnocchi Bar ready to stick at 12th and Pine

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

Lisa Nakamura is ready to make a food and drink venture succeed at 12th and Pine and she’s going to work to make it happen. The prolific restauranteur was already pondering changes before her new Gnocchi Bar served its first dish of fluffy little dumplings on Capitol Hill.

“We’ll see what people want,” Nakamura said as she scooped CHS a dish of the gelato from D’Ambrosio Gelateria Artigianale, the space’s previous tenant that will continue to have a presence — and treat-filled display case — inside Gnocchi Bar. Full disclosure: CHS accepted the gelato as a gift — and to help Nakamura train a new employee. We just want to help.

Nakamura opened the doors officially to her new restaurant Monday night after a weekend rewarding crowdfunding investors, friends, and family. She was also, doubtlessly, tinkering with what she is planning as a seasonal rotation of dishes featuring the hearty dumplings.

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